Opting out is a cop out

by Peter Weinberger

At last week’s Claremont City Council meeting, a long, robust discussion ended with it passing an ordinance, by a 3-1 vote, to protect tenants from certain “no-fault” evictions.

About halfway through the meeting, after being silent throughout, Council member Corey Calaycay told his colleagues and the audience he was opting out of discussing the matter because, “I don’t like to be asked to choose between people,” and due to a perceived  “mischaracterization” of his position [“Council passes rent ‘stabilization’ program, punts on protections,” April 28] by our reporter in the story three weeks prior.

Let me start by saying I do not know Calaycay personally. But I have followed his political career, including the impact of his numerous decisions. I have voted for him twice since he was first elected in March 2005.

Calaycay’s accomplishments include a long list of community outreach, and he’s served numerous organizations in addition to his work on the City Council. His resume is impressive and serves as an example of what public service looks like. Whether you agree with his politics or not, there’s no denying he’s committed to public service.

Yet like all of us, he’s a human being and is by design, imperfect.

Like anyone, I don’t relish receiving criticism I know to be unjustified. In my business — like so many others — facts can be misunderstood, misconstrued, or just absent from the conversation. And as we know, we Americans are having a more difficult time getting along; increasingly, we are taking our disagreements personally. Remember the adage, “agree to disagree?” Does that even happen any longer?

All of this is to say I understand Calaycay’s point of view. I’ve felt misunderstood. We all have. But calling out a Courier reporter in the middle of a council meeting solves nothing. And what concerns me the most is he used this perceived slight as an excuse for avoiding participation in a very important dialog that affected a large contingent of his constituents.

Think about these actions for a moment: Calaycay elected not to do his job because of (perceived) bad press, this at the precise time the citizens of Claremont, his colleagues on the council, and the thousands of people who voted him into office needed him to step up and be present.

Tough decisions are part of any management job. Believe me, I’ve been there. But as a leader of a company, or a city, it’s not an option to throw your hands up and decline to participate because you feel somebody slighted you in some way.

The Courier has an open policy on reader submissions for letters to the editor and opinion pieces. We welcome public input from all sides of every issue, as evidenced by the ongoing jousting among local interpreters of the Second Amendment on our pages.

When we make a mistake, we own up to it. Our reporting on April 28 was accurate. If Calaycay disagrees, he — just like everyone else — is welcome to pen a letter or an opinion piece and take us to task. Spouting off publicly, from the dais, is the opposite of constructive criticism: it’s the legislative equivalent of “I’m taking my ball and going home.”

Speaking as a voter and Claremont resident, c’mon Calaycay, stay in the game.


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